Why Fund Inner-led Change?

Starter Culture was born as a response to our growing concern for the health and transformativeness of social and ecological change groups, organisations and movements - and society at large. Burnout, destructive conflict and unhealthy group and power dynamics are running rife and derailing our heartfelt efforts to challenge systemic injustice and create alternatives. And unless we turn our attention to our inner worlds - and the group and organisational cultures these birth and perpetuate, we will continue to source our actions and group culture from the very same power-over consciousness that created the crises we are trying to address.

Our research over the last two decades illuminates the burning need to return the 'inner' to the heart of social and ecological justice and renewal work - and the devastating costs of our refusal to take the lid off this veritable, yet deeply generative, can of worms that holds the keys to the deep cultural transformation demanded by these times. This research has included compiling a wide range of peer-reviewed evidence detailing the effectiveness of an inner-led approach to change which we hope funders will find valuable.

To better understand the lived experiences of those trying to integrate an inner dimension, we asked more than 250 change-agents across 14 countries about the challenges and opportunities they experience when trying to integrate an inner dimension into their social and ecological change work. Almost all of them named lack of funding as the key barrier. They told us they don't know where to find funding to support this inner-led work. This was the case both for support for their internal organisational culture (addressing, or example, their struggles around burnout, conflict, power, decision-making and group dynamics) - as well as for externally facing work seeking to navigate our current crises through inner-led change.

In response to hearing this we carried out a Cups of Tea process with some 25 funders and philanthropists exploring their relationships with the inner dimension of change, and the success, challenges, needs and opportunities they perceive in regard to making more funding available for it.

We recently published our report Supporting a Hidden Movement: Funding Inner-led Change which shares the most prescient emergent threads from almost 300 Cups of Tea conversations and unpacks how funders and philanthropists can contribute to inner-led change across a diverse range of areas.

The report is a clarion call to funders and philanthropists to centre inner-led change within their theories of change and funding priorities and criteria, so as to fully embody a whole-systems approach and invest in solutions beyond the consciousness that created our current global predicament. It’s part of a wider thread of our work collaborating with funders and philanthropists to unleash significantly more support for inner-led change.

These inner-led change practitioners are pioneers of a vitally important dimension in our understanding of how change happens. They hold the keys to the depth and scale of transformation demanded by our current times and hence their work crucially needs more support and visibility.

“Without inner change there can be no outer change.
Without collective change, no change matters.”

angel Kyodo williams

How can funders support inner-led change?

There is currently a ripe and vital opportunity for funders and philanthropists to play a leading role in creating the cultural and policy space, and financial support that is needed for inner-led change to take its necessary place at the centre of our social and ecological change work. 

Below are a range of steps you might like to consider. Our full report offers more detail about what these could look like. Starter Culture would love to work with you to explore how you might move forward – no matter how small or ambitious your next step might be:

  • Centre inner-led change within your theory of change and funding priorities and criteria
  • Fund the cultivation of healthy organisational culture within current and future grantees, as well as your own organisations
  • Fund inner-led change initiatives at depth and scale
  • Support inner-led change practitioners to better support people from marginalised and disadvantaged contexts
  • Join together as a community of practice for inner-led change funders
  • Help pioneer a collective fund; resourcing inner-led change at depth and scale
  • Invest in the inner-led support needed to transition from transactional to relational funding and trust-based philanthropy
  • Become an ambassador of inner-led change

* Read the full report Supporting a Hidden Movement: Funding Inner-led Change

* Read an introduction to the report here

*Read more about our Cups of Tea Process here

* If you are a funder or philanthropist interested in inner-led change please contact Claire Milne to arrange a conversation.